Microsoft’s Super Bowl Ad Celebrates Katie Sowers, the Big Game’s Pioneering Coach

She's the first woman to lead on football's biggest stage

katie sowers
Katie Sowers, offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, had dreamed of being on a football team as a child. Microsoft
Headshot of David Griner

At this year’s Super Bowl, one of the most inspiring stories in an ad will also be playing out on the field.

Katie Sowers, offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, will be the focus of Microsoft’s Super Bowl ad, a 60-second spot from agency McCann about her journey from a childhood passion for football to becoming the first woman to coach in the Big Game.

“We are so honored to have the opportunity to share and be a part of Katie’s story,” said Kathleen Hall, corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research for Microsoft. “She is an inspiration to all of us and hopefully to those watching.”

The ad begins with Sowers reading from her own writing as a child, when she hoped to someday play on “a real football team.”

The Kansas native began playing football at age 8 and remained passionate about the sport throughout her youth. She went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Central Missouri, and then played for two teams in the Women’s Football Alliance before retiring in 2016 after to a hip injury.

Soon after, she began interning with the Atlanta Falcons before being recruited by the 49ers in 2017 through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. In addition to being the Super Bowl’s first female coach, she will also be the first openly gay coach in the Big Game.

“I want anyone who sees my story, not just women, to know that anything is possible if you truly believe it and work for it,” Sowers said in a statement about the ad. “Your gender, your sexual orientation, your skin color—those are all just a part of what makes you who you are. Those things should never limit how far you can go in this world.”

Even if the 49ers had not made it to the Super Bowl, where they will face the Kansas City Chiefs, Sowers would already have had a story worth telling. This season, she became the first woman to coach in the NFL Playoffs, and Microsoft celebrated her accomplishment with a 30-second spot in early January about her career and her use of the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 tablet.

The Super Bowl ad will expand on the earlier spot, and sources involved with the ad’s creation told Adweek that Microsoft would have run some version of the spot in the Big Game regardless of whether the 49ers made it to the season’s ultimate matchup.

“I am happy to share my story with so many, knowing that by just allowing the world to see how far I have come, so many others can begin their own path on a journey they may have never even known existed,” Sowers said.

The spot was directed by Peter Berg, best known for directing 2004’s Friday Night Lights film, which he adapted into a hit TV show.

Berg is a frequent presence in high-profile ads, including two in the 2019 Super Bowl: one for the NFL and one for Verizon.

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl 2020 Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 2 for the best live coverage of the commercials anywhere.


Client: Microsoft
Kathleen Hall – Corporate Vice President of Brand, Advertising and Research
Deana Singleton – GM, Global Advertising
Jenny Leahy – Director, Social and Media Partnerships
Danna Brokaw – Senior Marketing Manager
Ashley Castellanos – Senior Marketing Manager
Veronica Mao – Senior Marketing Manager
Kecia Classen – Global Brand and Digital Marketing Manager
Natalie Thompson – Senior Marketing Communications Manager

Agency: McCann New York

Sean Bryan – Co-Chief Creative Officer
Tom Murphy – Co-Chief Creative Officer
Shayne Millington – EVP, Global Executive Creative Director
Dabo Ché – Creative Director
Gabrielle Shirdan – VP, Creative Director
Geoff Bentz – VP, Creative Director
Nic Howell – VP, Creative Director
Nick Ciomperlik – Associate Creative Director
Ricardo Muñoz – Associate Creative Director
David Perea – Associate Creative Director
Nickie Thongton – Associate Creative Director
Chris Mitton – EVP, Executive Creative Director
Michael Aimette – Executive Creative Director

Business Leadership
Kevin Nelson – Managing Director
Tina Galley – EVP, Executive Account Director
Rosemary Calderone – SVP, Executive Account Director
Ellie Choi – Account Director
Alex Cho – Account Supervisor

Jeremy Miller – Chief Communications Officer

Project Management
Stella Warkman – SVP, Director of Project Management
Lauren Kosche – Senior Project Manager

Ash Farr – EVP, Global Director, Strategy and Research
Jordan Berger – Strategy Director

Carolyn Johnson – SVP, Head of Integrated Production
Rebecca Magner – Senior Producer
Nina Roussarie – Senior Producer
Morgan Edstrom – Producer
Caroline Sollmann – Art Producer
Eric David Johnson – SVP, Executive Music Producer

Business Affairs
David Halberstadt – Business Manager

Production Company: Film 47
Peter Berg – Director
Helga Gruber – Executive Producer
Taylor Steadman – Line Producer
Vic Palumbo – President

Editorial: No6 // Rock Paper Scissors
James Duffy – Editor (No6)
Frank Snider – Editor (RPS)
Damion Clayton – Editor (RPS)

Audio: Sonic Union
EP: Justine Cortale
Producer: Patrick Sullivan
Audio Engineer: Rob Ballingall

Post/VFX: Method Studios NY
EP: Graham Dunglinson
Producer: Hayley Wallach & Alyssa Giuliano
VFX Supervisor/ECD: Randie Swanberg
VFX Team: Margolit Steiner, Chihcheng Peng, Kevin Quinlan, Brandon Danowski, Yoshiko Hirata, Mark Woit, Matt Welch, Cecilie, Aaron Neitz, Pilan Lectez
AE Animator: Steven Lee

Color: Company 3 LA
Senior Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld
Senior Producer: Gabriel Wakeman
Executive Producer: Ashley McKim

Music: JSM
Joel Simon – CEO/CCO/Co-composer
Jeff Fiorello – VP/Executive Producer
Nathan Padgett – Co-Composer
Norm Felker – Producer
Andrew Manning – Producer

Wasserman Media Group
Maggie Lanter – Senior Manager, Brands
Samantha Branman – Manager, Brands

WE Communications
Chelsea Hawkins – Account Manager

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: January 28, 2020 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT